Small amounts of radioactive iodine have been detected in precipitation falling in Massachusetts. The radiation in the rain water is not a threat according to authorities, but the news might indicate that there’s more to come.
Geiger counters surrounding Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plants have indicated ever-increasing levels of radiation, despite the restoration of power to most of the power cores. The latest readings could mean that increased levels of radioactive elements might show up around the globe.
“The drinking water supply in Massachusetts is unaffected by this short-term, slight elevation in radiation. However, we will carefully monitor the drinking water as we exercise an abundance of caution,” DPH Commissioner John Auerbach said.
The current wind and water patterns around the globe made Massachusetts the target of the escaping radioactive materials from Fukushima, but changing winds could easily redirect the material anywhere. Now, with full nuclear meltdown a lesser threat in Japan, what’s worrying authorities is what will become of the radioactive material that’s already leaked from the severely damaged nuclear facility. Just this morning Japanese authorities evacuated one of the reactors after reports of radiation levels 100,000 times normal levels inside the control room. At that level, a worker will reach his yearly allowable exposure in only 15 minutes!
But it’s not all contained within the plants, another reading taken from the sea water 1,000 feet outside the facility showed radioactive iodine levels 1,850 times higher than legal limits. It’s clear that even if no further leaks occur, the amount of radiation already leaked from the plants is enough to cause trouble.
For now, only radioactive iodine, I-131 has been found in Massachusetts. The good news is that I-131 has a very short half-life of about eight days, and therefore won’t accumulate for long periods. The debate over the use of nuclear power following the Japan quake and tsunami continues to rage. But if proponents of nuclear power begin seeing radioactive material landing in their own hometown, opinions might change rather quickly. Where do you stand on the nuclear debate? Let me know in the comment section!